Winter anglers on Mille Lacs Lake will be able to keep one walleye while ice fishing for the fourth season in a row, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources announced Monday.

Anglers will be allowed to keep walleye on Mille Lacs starting Dec. 1, with a limit of one walleye between 21-23 inches or one fish over 28 inches.

“When the walleye population can support it, we want to provide anglers the opportunity to harvest some fish,” said Brad Parsons, DNR fisheries section manager. “As in recent winters, we’re confident that the walleye population is healthy enough to support some harvest.”

If too many fish are caught this winter, over 15,000 pounds worth, that could limit how many walleyes anglers can keep next summer, DNR officials said. Harvest from the winter of 2019-20 will be counted toward the state’s annual share of walleye from Mille Lacs under the 1837 federal treaty with Anishinaabe bands. State anglers share the safe harvest level with eight Anishinaabe bands that have fishing rights under the treaty. The state’s allowable harvest for next summer's fishing season will be set in early 2020 through discussions between the state and the bands.

Walleye harvests have been severely limited on Mille Lacs for several years due to bad reproduction, with few small fish surviving to grow big. DNR officials are encouraged by better survival of the 2016 and 2017 year classes.